Cty. Attorney and Board of Supervisors fighting in Stapley case

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Conflict of interest or are board members protecting Stapley?

PHOENIX - The Sheriff and County Attorney are being pitted against the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, all stemming from the recent indictment of Supervisor Don Stapley.

Stapley faces more than 50 felony counts for allegedly failing to disclose personal finances, business dealings, land deals, and more.

The County Attorney doesn't like where this case is going.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas says Stapley's receiving special treatment from the courts and the Board of Supervisors.

Thomas doesn't like the judge chosen to hear the Stapley case.

He says the judge has donated to Thomas' rival in the last campaign.

Thomas is also going after Stapley's fellow supervisors, accusing them of rallying around Stapley to the point of violating the law.

By law, the County Attorney Andrew Thomas represents the Board of Supervisors.

But now that Thomas is prosecuting Supervisor Don Stapely, some on the board don't want Thomas to continue representing them in civil cases.

Today the board took steps toward hiring their own outside attorney.

"They don't have the right to fire me!" says Thomas.

"They do not have the right to consult outside attorneys to see if they have the right to fire me."

Some board members say it's a conflict of interest to keep Thomas as their attorney since he's prosecuting one of them.

Andy Kunasek says "It would be advisable that, at least temporarily, he focus on one side or the other, but not both."

The decision to consult an outside attorney drew a sharp response from Thomas.

"This is about the Board of Supervisors circling the wagons around an accused felon-for reasons I cannot fathom," says Thomas.

"They're taking actions contrary to the law, contrary to the will of the voters who voted for me."

Thomas wouldn't elaborate on what actions he'll take if the Board moves forward with plans to oust him as their attorney in civil cases.

Thomas could sue the board, which he's done in the past.

As far as what's next in the case, which is still in its early stages, Supervisor Stapley still has to turn himself in to be processed and finger-printed.

Stapley says the forgery and perjury counts against him are baseless.